power supply

The ink was hardly dry when we accepted an offer to design a tiny new power supply for the Sabre Tattoo Machine…

DESIGN SERVICES: Hardware Design, PCB Design, Prototype Fabrication, Prototype Assembly
KEY TECHNOLOGIES: Low Power, Miniature Circuit Design


Pioneering tattoo machine supplier Chameleon Studio set a demanding brief for product design consultancy 4D Products Ltd to design “the world’s finest tattoo machine”. As part of that brief, Chameleon Studio was keen to adopt an approach of “Designed and Made in the UK”. A key aesthetic aspect of the design requirements was a feature to include two fixed-brightness LEDs set within the sleek body of the machine.


Iain McCall, design director at 4D Products Ltd of Daresbury, Warrington first devised a basic proof-of-concept power PCB to demonstrate and trial the general idea. Iain then turned to TDI to refine the power PCB design and implement a solution that would suit low-cost, high-volume surface-mount manufacturing.

We designed a miniature power distribution and LED control PCB to fit snugly within the Sabre’s main body. The fluid outer shape and complex internals of the Sabre housing meant that, although the electronic circuitry was relatively simple, the circuit board dimensions and outline had to be matched very carefully to the tight space constraints within the housing. We developed a voltage stabilising circuit to take the wide-ranging input power supply and pass a well-regulated power to a pair of blue LEDs, which shine through light pipes and clear windows fitted flush into the smooth curves of the machine body. The circuit board also delivered power to the precision 4.5W Maxon motor that plays a critical role in bestowing the Sabre machine with its outstanding levels of controllability.

Once the design was complete, we assisted 4D Products further by commissioning a small batch of prototypes. When these had been tested and proven, we organised the first production batch of 300 board assemblies, using our extensive network of industry contacts to source board-fabrication facilities at a UK laminate supplier and surface-mount board assembly and functional test at a leading UK contract manufacturer.


Chameleon Studio, under their new brand Sabre Tattoo Supplies, successfully launched their product in August 2015, with a claim to have created the highest quality tattoo machine on the market. http://www.sabretattoosupplies.com/